WOODBINE, Ga. - A Georgia man was among 14 U.S. soldiers killed Wednesday when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed during a nighttime mission in northern Iraq.
Army Capt. Corry Paul Tyler was one of those killed in the crash.
Tyler was described by those who knew him as an extraordinary man. A close family friend told Channel 4 Tyler graduated at the top of his class at Camden County High School.
In 1999 he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at Westpoint.
"They were very, very proud of Corry. That's all Terry talked about," said pastor Dr. William Warnock.
Warnock is the pastor at First United Methodist Church in Woodbine. Warnock said he knows the Tyler family, and as their pastor he spent some time with them Wednesday.
"Mrs. Tyler is broken," Warnock said.
Tyler's father passed away last year and Warnock said Wednesday's news was especially hard on Tyler's mom.
Tyler was the sole male survivor in his family and for that reason was not required to return to Iraq. However, the West Point graduate volunteered for his third tour of duty.
"It speaks highly of his integrity. I served in the service, and any person who volunteers -- they're just special, just absolutely special people," said Warnock.
Tyler is survived by his wife Kathy and three small children who live in Washington.
The military said it appeared the aircraft Tyler and 13 others were in was lost by mechanical problems and not from hostile fire.
It was the Pentagon's worst single-day death toll in Iraq since January and indicated how forces are relying heavily on air power in offensives across northern regions after rooting out many militant strongholds in Baghdad and central regions.
The UH-60 helicopter went down before dawn in the Tamim province that surrounds Kirkuk, an oil-rich city 180 miles north of Baghdad, said Lt. Col. Michael Donnelly, a military spokesman in northern Iraq.
He declined to be more specific about the location of the crash, but said the facts gathered indicated it was almost certainly due to a mechanical problem and not hostile fire. The final cause remained under investigation, however.
The Black Hawk was one of two helicopters and had just picked up troops after a mission when it crashed, Donnelly said. The four crew members and 10 passengers aboard were assigned to Task Force Lightning, but the military did not release further information about their identities pending notification of relatives.
A U.S. soldier also was killed and three others were wounded Wednesday during fighting west of Baghdad, the military said separately.
The total of 15 was the largest single-day death count since 25 U.S. soldiers were killed around the country on Jan. 20, including 12 who died in a helicopter crash. The deadliest crash occurred Jan. 26, 2005 when a CH-53 Sea Stallion transport helicopter went down in a sandstorm in western Iraq, killing 31 U.S. troops.
The U.S. military relies heavily on helicopters to avoid the threat of ambushes and roadside bombs -- the deadliest weapon in the militants' arsenal -- and dozens have crashed in accidents or been shot down.
Wednesday's deaths rose to at least 3,722 members of the U.S. military who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
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